2010 World Cup a delight for Arch

Johannesburg- The late president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu played a crucial role in the awarding of the Fifa World Cup in 2004 when they rubbed shoulders with Fifa’s top brass in Zurich, Switzerland.

They managed to convince the global football leaders that Mzansi was a safe place and that the country had one of the greatest infrastructures to host the global soccer spectacle.

With Mandela being sickly and struggling to walk at 91 and Tutu 20 years younger at 71, the world knelt at South Africa’s feet after then Fifa president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter boldly announced amid a tense atmosphere in SA.

“The 2010 Fifa World Cup will be staged in South Africa,” he said as he slowly pulled out a card with the name South Africa out of an envelope.

As usual, Tutu went into his signature and impromptu dance routine to join celebrations with other members of the local delegation.

The venue of the announcement erupted in deafening celebrations, coupled by all around hugs from the South African delegation that was represented by, among others, the chairman of the 2020 World Cup Local Organizing Committee Irvin Khoza and head of the committee Danny Jordaan.

South Africa beat Morocco by four votes to win the bid. The victory was a morale booster because South Africa had previously lost the 2006 bid to Germany by a single vote in 2000.

To say that South Africa hosted one of the most successful football showpieces could be an understatement.

The world football governing body gave South Africa a near-perfect nine out of 10 score for successfully hosting the global football event.

Sporting a yellow and green T-shirt and scarf in support of the South African team Tutu, the human rights activist, was there all the way, from the opening concert held at Orlando Stadium, where international star Shakira sang the Waka Waka theme song, to the end of the tournament.

Thousands braved the cold to be at Orlando Stadium, waving the South African flag singing Shosholoza, the popular local tune sung mostly at various sporting events.

The concert was broadcast live around the world and featured, among others, Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo and Vusi Mahlasela.

“Ke Nako! [It’s Time]” and “Feel It, It is Here,” were the popular buzz words of the  tournament’s finals, with the vuvuzelas blowing non-stop at every match.

The opening ceremony and first match featuring the host’s Bafana Bafana team and Mexico ended in a 1-1 stalemate after then Kaizer Chiefs star  Siphiwe Tshabalala scored the opening goal of the tournament.

Mexico later equalized and the teams shared the spoils.

Mandela was not there as expected, following the death of his 13-year-old great granddaughter in a car accident.

But Madiba and his wife Graca ensured they attended the closing ceremony of Mzansi’s soccer spectacle.

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